Weekend Reading

You know what? I can’t remember the last time I ate a potato – and that is a good thing.

Fresh produce is so plentiful and gorgeous right now, that the average meat-and-potatoes dinners are replaced with a pile of market fresh vegetables on the plate, with a little protein on the side. Corn cobs by the dozens, broccoli and beans, tomatoes and cucumbers, all fall under my knife as we enjoy them in their prime.

OK, so that’s not ALL we’ve been eating! We recently celebrated summer with about 25 friends and a huge banana split bar. It’s a simple summer dessert that feeds a crowd in a jiffy and is a definite crown-pleaser.

Last week we looked at preserving three ingredients that are abundant right now: broccoli, cucumbers and corn. Next week look for more preserving recipes to come your way and for a few dishes featuring more seasonal produce. Hooray for August!

For now, here are a few posts that I enjoyed on the web this week: [Read more…]

How to Freeze Sweet Corn

The following is a guest post by Tiffany of Eat at Home. Welcome, Tiffany!

One of the best tastes of summer is sweet corn.  It’s right up there with garden-fresh tomatoes and sweet tea.  Luckily, it’s easy to preserve summer flavor by freezing corn.  There’s nothing like pulling a bag of corn from the freezer and serving your family the tastes of July and August in the middle of winter.

When buying corn, look for freshly picked ears.  The husks should be green and not dried out.  Peel back the husks and take a look at the kernels.  They should be plump, but not too full. [Read more…]

Maine Mini-Vacation Highlights




In case you were wondering, our recent road trip to the Maine coast wasn’t ALL about food. I didn’t even make a menu for the camping part of things–and I think that is a first. OK, I have to admit part of me was hoping we’d encounter so many local good eats, that cooking over an open fire would take a backseat.

Sure enough we did, like the absolutely perfect lobster roll pictured above from Percy’s Store on Popham beach. Oh and you already heard about our lobster feast, complete with a hatchet to open the claws.

Yes, there was great food, but most of our time, though, was spent enjoying this:


You won’t find much information online about the Popham Beach area, or the small, family run campground we stayed in. It was the perfect, non-touristy, off-the-grid kind of place that we like to hang out at.

Most of the time we had the beach nearly to ourselves, especially in the early mornings and late evenings, my two favorite times to stroll the beach. And on a cloudy day? The 3 kilometer stretch was ours!


These little dudes acted like they owned the beach, especially the one in the middle.


Popham Beach was SO ideal for small children, with it’s gentle surf and miles of sand. Even the big kids had their fun.


Choosing to spend the maximum time at the beach, we kept the food really simple. Well,with the exception of this chocolate cake that I made the day before the trip…


I somehow had the feeling that we were going to need some comfort food, but I had NO idea how badly…

Maybe you heard about our storm tornado from my tweets, but you didn’t hear about the power outage on the entire point. The trees down. The flooding of our tent. The terror of my children. The tornado touchdown not far away and The. Most. Intense. lightning storm I have ever witnessed.

And, at about 10 pm, our retreat to Comfort Inn.


I consider myself a seasoned camper; I’ve canoe-camped, winter-camped, and slept under the stars by glacial streams. Never in my 31 years of camping have I ever taken a hotel. Seriously though, those coastal storms are somthin’ else.

And so chocolate cake was consumed, our tent dried, camp set up and the next day looked like this: perfectly peaceful.


Some of the local sites included a magnificent old fort, which Noah was convinced was a castle, and ripped around the place with tireless energy.


Another hit with the whole family was the Maine Maritime Museum, where we played pirate on a almost-to-scale ‘real’ pirates ship, toured the extensive and interesting shipbuilding grounds, and went aboard a real wooden fishing vessel.


Our morning in Portland flew by (OK, so maybe stops at the L.L.Bean empire and J. Crew outlet store on the way cut into that precious time) but we saw enough to vow to return. And possibly even move there.

Highlights were The Standard Baking Company, which Travel & Leisure calls the best bakery in Maine, and this place:


We took our sweet time on the drive from Montreal to Maine, making sure the road trip was about the journey just as much as the destination. Stops along the way included this one, of course, for a full factory tour.


Aaaand this place,


which will now be on our not-to-be-missed list. (Psst! Free WiFi on the terrace!)

How nice are the folks at Green Mountain Coffee? They supplied us (no charge) with more than enough of their French Roast to last our camping trip. Thanks, Green Mountain Coffee!


Rolling Vermont hills, dotted with farms. I never get tired of the drive.


And a good time was had by all…

Pursuing Your Passion For Pickles (Recipe: Garlic-Dill Pickles)

Written by Lynn Craig of Cookie Baker Lynn.

Pickles seem like a funny thing to get excited about. They’re just cucumbers in jars with liquid and seasonings, right? Right, but some people are quite passionate about their pickles.

A dear friend of mine who is a US transplant living in the UK says one of the things she misses the most is dill pickles. The shops there just don’t carry them. On a trip to visit family in the US she returned home with jars of pickles in her carry-on luggage (not something you can do these days). She got strange looks, but it was worth it to savor just-right dill pickles.

There is a deli in the Pike Place Market in Seattle that flies in their pickles every week from New York so they’ll be “right.”

And then there’s my son. Pickles are his favorite food group. He’ll beg me for a pickle to snack on while I’m slicing some and when he’s eating a sandwich or a hamburger, it’s got to have pickles or it’s not right.

The beauty of canning your own pickles is that you can make them to suit your own personal tastes and needs. Pints or quarts, dill or sweet, garlic or jalapeno, you can choose. And if you grow your own pickling cucumbers (I don’t – I am known as She-Who-Kills-Plants), you can even get just the right variety for the size and type you prefer. [Read more…]

Preserving Summer: Freezing Broccoli 101

As selective eaters as my sons are, there is one mighty green giant that they gobble up without hesitation and then ask for more.

Broccoli.

I know, it’s usually the one vegetable that is scorned, shunned, or pureed into sauces to bypass careful inspection of little diners, but my kids both love it. And so, I don’t question their fondness, I just serve it, and then serve it again.

Now that broccoli is in season, and those tight, firm heads are $0.99 each at the market, I’m buying them by the basketful and freezing them for winter. Simple steamed broccoli served with a pat of butter is the boys’ preferred way to enjoy broccoli (no roasting for them, please) and the frozen florets reconstitute quite nicely in boiling water.

It’s impossible to pass up this opportunity to stock up on one of our favorite mid-summer vegetables. Here’s how I do it. [Read more…]